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Space to roll: Jiu-jitsu studio expands in St. Ignatius

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ST. IGNATIUS – Jiu-jitsu students in the Cross Collar Academy can now practice their skills without competing for space with basketballs. 

“We’ve got a much bigger space,” instructor Justin Dumontier said.

Dumontier moved his jiu-jitsu studio from behind the basketball courts at the Community Center to a new building with three times the space, just a block from the school. The grand opening was on Friday night. But first, he had to remodel the building.

“It was pretty run down,” he said. 

Dumontier worked in construction before he became a full-time instructor. He used those skills to put up drywall, texture and paint the new location. Freshly laid laminate floor covers the ground in the waiting area where ping pong and foosball tables are located.

“We wanted to have something for the kids to do if they come in early or need to wait,” he said of the games.

Thick puzzle board mats cover 1,000 square feet of space to soften the landing when someone is “being taken down” during a match. Roman Gonzalez, 10, likes the flooring.

“It’s way softer,” he said. 

Rhain Gonzalez, 9, recently started taking classes.

“I was bored so I signed up,” he said. “I like it here.”

Isaac Dumontier, 13, began the grappling self-defense art of jiu-jitsu when he was about 6 years old with his father, the instructor.

“This place is nice,” he said. “Now we are not cramped in a little area. We’ve got more room. The other place was way too narrow.”

Justin Dumontier hopes to continue to add more classes. He said he is flexible with time.

“I can do six in the morning if there are at least three people,” he said. “I live close by so it’s not a problem. People have to work and sometimes early is all they can do.”

Dumontier hopes to make the facility a central location for kids. He is utilizing his experience as a soccer coach, wrestling volunteer and father of six. 

“This place is for any age, but I originally started it to develop programs for kids,” he said. “I am thinking about summer camps and after school programs. It could be a place Little Guy Wrestlers come for extra practice. I want to give kids in the community something to do.”

Dumontier can be reached at (406) 529-1439 or at www.crosscollaracademy.com. 

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